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Ill. state prison CO pleads guilty to beating restrained inmate

The CO faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the civil rights charge and five years and $250,000 on the obstruction charge

Illinois Department of Corrections

Illinois Department of Corrections

By Ahmad Lathan
Belleville News-Democrat

PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. — One of three former correctional officers involved in the alleged beating of a restrained inmate at the state prison in Pinckneyville and trying to cover it up has pleaded guilty.

Cord A. Williams, 35, of Vergennes pleaded guilty Tuesday of violating an inmate’s civil rights by using excessive force and of conspiracy to obstruct justice by falsifying incident reports.

According to documents filed with the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Williams and other correctional officers participated in beating a restrained inmate on April 24, 2022.

The other accused correctional officers charged in the indictment were Christian L. Pyles, 25, of Christopher and Mark C. Maxwell, 52, of Pinckneyville.

Pyles was indicted on charges of violation of civil rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. Maxwell charges allege that he was the acting lieutenant when he failed to intervene and allowed the inmate to be beaten in his presence.

The inmate, who is identified in the criminal complaints only as “J.T.”, got into a verbal dispute with other inmates who were inside a different housing unit, according to court records. As words were exchanged, another correctional officer intervened and was punched in the head after attempting to hand cuff the inmate.

Williams and Pyles then placed the inmate in leg irons and handcuffed him as they transferred him to an evaluation room inside the Healthcare Unit, out of the view of cameras. According to court records, Maxwell was present in the room as both Williams and Pyles began beating the inmate while he remained fully restrained as retaliation for punching another correctional officer.

The inmate suffered a left orbital bone and floor fracture with intrasinus hemorrhaging, multiple facial lacerations requiring a total of 25 stitches, a chipped tooth, rib pain and lung damage, a release from the federal court stated.

As part of their official duties, correctional officers are required to write incident reports to accurately document any unusual incidents that they observe or are reported to them, including disturbances or the use of force.

According to the indictment, Williams, Pyles, “and others” colluded to submit a falsified IDOC incident report on a cover story, court records states.

Williams faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the civil rights charge and five years and $250,000 on the obstruction charge. Supervised release and additional assessments also may be levied, according to federal sentencing guidelines.

Maxwell and Pyles have both pleaded not guilty and are awaiting court dates.

The Illinois State Police are conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft is prosecuted the case.

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